Virtually any method of strength training will elicit a response in a novice, detrained or untrained lifter. A program with any significant level of intensity, whether it be lifting soup cans, P90X, Insanity, CrossFit or Westside Barbell’s conjugate method, will enhance the strength of an individual in just a few months. For this reason it can be very deceiving or misleading to interpret the data shown by the exposure of training protocols on novice athletes as a qualification of a program’s efficacy and efficiency. We see this all the time on TV in the form of the Shake Weight, Tony Little’s Gazelle training, the Perfect Pushup and Zumba. Something is always better than nothing, but what does this breed? Relatively inexperienced coaches with a minimal amount of knowledge or development having initial success with clients, attracting more people to programs that require minimal coaching. So how do you differentiate yourself and your program from others? Here is the best suggestion I can give you:
Take the Time to set a Good Foundation of the Basics When dealing with a new athletes take the time to restore the range and correct pattern of basic movements. Anyone can slap weight on a barbell. It takes skill to teach someone how to move with virtuosity. Setting this foundation will raise your athletes’ ceiling in the long run…increasing their potential, decreasing the risk of injury and ensuring them a more fruitful and productive athletic life. Here are some basic concepts of movement.
Core Strength The ability to support and maintain a neutral position of the spine as you move about the hips, knees, shoulders and elbows can’t be underestimated. This position evenly loads the vertebral discs of the spine, reducing shear and creating a safe and effective transmission of forces.
Posterior Chain Engagement Teach athletes to access the biggest, most powerful muscle groups in the body: the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors. This can be done by initiating movement with the hips, balancing weight in the heels, turning over the pelvis to stretch the hamstrings and maintaining a strong lumbar curve of the back.
Move in Proximal to Distal Patterns High levels of power are generated from the center out. This happens in a wave of contractions from the high-force, low-velocity muscles of the core to the low-force, high-velocity muscles of the extremities.
Restore Full Range of Motion Athletes should be moving through their anatomical full range of motion. Partial range of motion results in partial strength and partial flexibility. Ensuring good muscular balance and enhancing muscular recruitment require full-range exercises. This should be the first plan of attack… DO NOT WAIT!! Your athletes won’t learn to go full range once they develop a 400-pound quarter-squat.
Anyone can use intensity to get people in shape. It is the knowledge of movement and mastering an appropriate prescription in strategic doses that will ensure the continued athletic development of clients. Use these principals to differentiate yourself and your program from others.